Electronic devices are getting smaller and more efficient, and thus require higher quality in the inspection of semiconductor microfabrication processes. Characterizing critical dimensions of various component structures is an essential step to provide quality control feedback on fabrication processes. Current technology features component structures (e.g., trenches, lines and gratings) that measure down to a couple of hundred nanometers, which excludes the usage of optical microscopes due to the light diffraction limit. However, atomic force microscopy (AFM) can provide nanometer accuracy in x, y and z directions without damaging components and, therefore, is a very useful tool for characterizing these structures.
In this workshop, I will briefly cover the applications of AFM in the characterization of trenches, lines and gratings. First, I will introduce the Dimension AFM, a large‑platform system that utilizes proprietary PeakForce Tapping mode for superior critical dimension measurement performance. Then I will discuss AutoMET, a software option that allows users to automatically measure samples with the help of pattern recognition. I will also go over the offline batch data process specifically for these structures. Finally, we will conclude the workshop with a live demonstration showing how to measure a patterned sample.